Updated: Apr 5, 2021
This article was originally published on onceuponajrny.com
Being a Lesbian in NYC
Did you know New York City is the largest city in the United States? It consists of 5 very distinct boroughs each with its own community exhibiting its own lifestyle: Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island. It’s the most populous city in the US which in turn makes it full of culture and diversity. It really is such a special city if you ever have the opportunity to live here and be a New Yorker. We often take a lot of pride saying we live in NYC because of the diversity and being able to handle all these different cultures that are thrown at you, but I think the best part of it is being in a city that is recognized for its LGBT pride and community.
New York City is often referred as the genesis of the LGBT civil rights movement. In June 1969, a police riot erupted at a bar that was known to have the most marginalized people in the gay community: Stonewall Inn. The patrons resisted a police raid that then led to activist groups protesting for more establishments for people to be open about their sexual orientation without being arrested. The Stonewall Riots influenced so many other areas thereafter to create their own identities and escalated organizations to come up with Gay Pride. The first Gay Pride in US history started on Christopher St. at the Stonewall Inn simultaneously with marches in Chicago and L.A. Stonewall Inn is now a historic landmark and is still one of the most popular LGBTQ+ bars in NYC.
Being lesbians in New York is such a freeing place to be because there is such a huge variation of people, you don’t feel outcasted and a lot of times you will run into other lesbians like you. We feel super comfortable being ourselves and really affectionate with one another. There is also just a feeling of rebellion that comes with being in New York. You want to go out and meet people and do the risqué things and have the IDC attitude. Generally, most places if not all, are super accepting of LGBT but there are definitely neighborhoods that are queer-er than others.
GAY DISTRICTS IN MANHATTAN
There are quite a few areas that are super queer in NYC. Some of our favorite areas include: Greenwich Village, Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and Hell’s Kitchen.
Greenwich Village is a must. The whole area is very inclusive with colorful vibes and covered with rainbow flags at restaurants and bars around. The famous Stonewall Inn is also located here but there are also a few other popular gay and lesbian bars like Cubbyhole, Henrietta Hudson, and Pieces. The neighborhood is welcoming and is also where the Pride parade ends.
Bushwick, Brooklyn has its own personality but still very queer. There is more of that hipster attitude in Brooklyn but there are a ton of great places to eat, drink and hangout. Often times, we find that there are less tourists here but still a great area to explore and be as open about your sexuality as you want.
Hell’s Kitchen is in midtown Manhattan has a ton of gay clubs that are open and friendly to all of the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll also see quite a few rainbow flags waving at the bars and restaurants in this area that’ll make you feel more at home. If you love a good drag brunch, you have to come to Therapy or Hardware.
THE BEST LESBIAN BARS IN NYC
There are fun lesbian bars in both lower Manhattan and Brooklyn but as mentioned earlier, a lot of these queer neighborhoods will have a mixed LGBTQ+ community at these bars.
281 W 12th St, New York, NY 10014
You can come into Cubbyhole any night of the week and it’ll always be a great time! It’s one of the only lesbian identified bars in NYC. There are fun and random things hanging all over the ceiling and a great place to meet other lesbians in the city too!
53 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Where it all began! The birthplace for LGBT rights and a home for everyone. There are events here every night and a particularly sexy and fun dance party on the 2nd floor on Fridays!
438 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
The oldest and most celebrated lesbian bar in NY! Henrietta’s is fun and vibrant and has a popular happy hour special everyday from 4-7p. Look up their event calendar for specific DJs!
The Standard, 25 Cooper Sq, New York, NY 10003
Owner of Mission Chinese opened her own weird-chic and queer bar with lots of neon lights. This space has great dance parties, drag nights, and lesbian-specific events.
8 Christopher St, New York, NY 10014
Located at the heart of where it all began is this super fun, high energy bar open to all the LGBTQ+ community! There are also really fun drag nights here!
348 W 52nd St, New York, NY 10019
This is personally our favorite drag bar in all of NYC. With a two-floor lounge in Hells Kitchen, you can find some of the best of the best drag here including contestants from RPDR! Wednesday nights are a hit!
697 10th Ave, New York, NY 10036
Drag brunch becomes a huge dance party on Sundays! It’s hard to not come here. This is a gay club but open to the community to have a great time.
LESBIAN BARS IN BROOKLYN
363 5th Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215
This lesbian bar is low-key but a warm and great dive spot! It’s great to grab a mixed drink and sit by the bar and have a conversation. There’s also a little backyard to sit out back when the weather is nice!
Misster at The Woods
48 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Located in Williamsburg Brooklyn is this open spaced venue with a backyard patio and taco truck to fill all your necessities. This bar is extremely supportive of the queer community but Wednesday nights specifically turns into a lesbian dance party. This is our favorite scene ;)
THE BEST LESBIAN CLUBS IN NYC
There aren’t any specific lesbian clubs in NYC but there are clubs that are more mixed than others. There’s also events hosted at some of these venues for lesbians.
LESBIAN CLUBS IN MANHATTAN
Ritz Bar & Lounge
369 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036
Located in Hells Kitchen is this underground gay dance club Gay dance club with weekly drag performances. Smokey and great dance scene! This is predominately a male gay bar but our favorite LGBT nightlife scene in NYC.
Dream Downtime lower level, 355 W 16th St, New York, NY 10011
Below the Dream is another nightclub that has a very eclectic group of people! There’s a speakeasy feel to this dance floor with velvet couches and old paintings on the wall. Not necessarily a gay bar but open atmosphere and more upscale than the other clubs. Dress to impress here!
The Back Room
102 Norfolk St, New York, NY 10002
Speakeasy in the lower east side of Manhattan hidden above an old toy factory. Not a gay bar but has a mixed crowd. This bar was around during the prohibition era. We love this bar especially on Monday nights for their 1920s swinging performances. Also, they serve their cocktails in teacups!
LESBIAN CLUBS IN BROOKLYN
House of Yes
2 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
HOY is a funky venue that is weird, wild and wonderful all at the same time. There are cabaret, circus and theater performances programmed to have the best time. This a very queer psycadelic crowd and so much fun!
599 Johnson Ave #1, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Fun dance party and after-hours spot with great DJs and eclectic crowd. Great for deep house and a queer vibe!
LESBIAN EVENTS IN NYC
Lesbian events in NYC is a great way to meet other people and get more involved. The lesbian organizations we follow are Spice NYC, EllisPresents and Hot Rabbit.
Spice NYC hosts many events during pride and summer. There’s quite a few parties like Femme Fatale and even an Atlantic City trip in the summer but what we love about Spice NYC are the mingling brunch events. We love talking and getting a conversation going. For more events: click here.
EllisPresents is another one of our favorite organizations. ELLIS throws invite-only events to celebrate the curious, fluid, interesting and interested women/trans and non-binary folks of NYC.
Hot Rabbit collaborates with Honey Burlesque for LGBTQ+ women parties (locations vary but include Baby’s Alright, DROM, and Lot 45 Buschwick). All of their events include a dance party and are fun to let loose and interact with other lesbians. For more Hot Rabbit events, click here.
PRIDE EVENTS IN NYC
Pride NYC is our favorite location for Pride. We’ve been to a few in other cities and even countries but nothing speaks to us the way Pride in NYC does. We might be biased here but there is such a magical and open atmosphere. Pride in NYC becomes a home to everyone and that’s what makes it so special to us. We become so inspired and emotional seeing all the floats come by of all religions and different cultures.
Pride NYC is typically the last weekend of June and the march starts every Sunday at 11:30am at the intersections of 26th Street and 5th Avenue and proceeds all the way down lower Manhattan until it reaches Greenwich Village. The city will be pouring with LGBTQ+ community alike but the best location to be is around Christopher Street. While it is crowded, you’ll realize the whole area is supportive so just stop by a bar, a restaurant, and take a break when you need to.
Events for Pride happen all weekend long at all of the bars mentioned above but here are our favorites:
289 10th Ave, New York, NY 10001
This huge multi-tiered dance venue becomes a huge lesbian club in NYC during Pride. There’s class DJs rotating sets and performers dancing throughout the club.
House of Yes
2 Wyckoff Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Perfect setting for a bunch of queer people to get together and groove out to the night!
We also follow Spice’s calendar of events for Pride month (locations vary every year).
OTHER LESBIAN SPOTS IN NYC
Restaurants, coffee shops, etc. that are LGBT owned. Big Gay Ice Cream shop for example. Maybe something about Stonewall monument etc.
Big Gay Ice Cream
61 Grove Street New York, New York 10014
Located in Greenwich Village. Grab yourself a giant cone at this colorful gay shop.
40 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
Mexican eatery that’s located in all the gayborhoods!
Pig & Khao
68 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002
Chic and artsy restaurant in the lower east side with graffitied walls. Great for group brunches!
171 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Queer owner of Nobar. Trendy and hip spot in NYC for sharing plates and asian food!
610 W 56th St, New York, NY 10019
Cool, tiered music venue with a range of artists. While in town, look up some great artists playing and you’ll be sure to find a mixed crowd. We saw Jess Glynne here and it was AMAZING!
There really are so many spots in NYC to go and see so we tried to list the places we have explored. This is such a supportive and inclusive community
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